Marcus Trescothick fell five short of a 67th first class century as Somerset posted 308 for seven on the opening day of the County Championship match with Essex at Taunton.

The 42-year-old former England opener hit 16 fours in his 158-ball innings before pulling a short delivery from Peter Siddle straight to Nick Browne at deep-square and departing crestfallen for 95 Somerset skipper Tom Abell contributed 70, Steve Davies 45 and Lewis Gregory 42 not out on a worn looking pitch that could well turn as the match progresses.

There were three wickets each for Peter Siddle and two for Jamie Porter as the Essex bowlers stuck to their task well, keeping a rein on the scoring rate despite a very short boundary on the town side of the ground.

Somerset began well after Abell had won the toss, Eddie Byrom (16) helping Trescothick put on 38 for the first wicket before edging a catch to wicketkeeper Adam Wheater off Siddle in the 12th over.

Trescothick’s first four scoring shots were boundaries, but he also had to be watchful, particularly after Simon Harmer was introduced into the Essex attack with the total 45 for one.

The off-spinner was soon making life difficult on the dry surface and had Azhar Ali caught at short mid-wicket for 17 with the total on 63.

Trescothick used all his experience to play Harmer well and went to his half-century off 83 balls, with 10 fours.

It looked like being Somerset’s morning, but on the stroke of lunch Porter pinned James Hildreth lbw for nine to make the score 104 for three at the interval.

Trescothick and Abell then produced an assured stand of 76 at the start of the afternoon session before the veteran opener lost concentration and misjudged a pull-shot off Siddle to surrender his wicket after a cautious and valuable innings.

The tea score was 207 for four, Abell having gone to a watchful fifty off 89 deliveries, with 8 fours. It was a responsible knock by the young skipper, but his hopes of a hundred ended when he edged a catch behind off Ravi Bopara.

Essex took the second new ball at 261 for five and broke through with it when left-hander Davies had his middle stump uprooted by Porter, having hit 8 fours.

Dom Bess looked short of form after a break from first team action and could make only eight before being caught at gully to give Siddle his third wicket.

The Australian ended a day shortened by four overs by bad light with three for 71 from 22 overs, while Porter claimed two for 75 from 21 overs.

Gregory, who has enjoyed an excellent Vitality Blast group campaign with the bat, looked in confident form, striking 6 fours in moving 42 off 48 balls.